Wednesday, 25 May, 2022

Academic Conferences Foster Worldwide University Collaboration

Dr P R Datta

Although I was quite weary as I did reach to my hotel at 3 am and I know that I have to attend the conference at 9 am to deliver my keynote presentation as a chief guest, but I was confident that if I can sleep at least two hours I would be OK. I am an excellent sleeper always but, in some circumstances, I do not allow less sleep to affect my job patterns. To ensure I wake up on time I set my alarm. It helped me as my alarm started to ring as set. I was feeling really sluggish, lethargic, weak and not willing to wake up. However, the time I came down within a nano second all has disappeared. What a terrific buzzing setting. Participants were interacting with one another in the ballroom of the Maydan Hotel, one of the most beautiful hotels in Dubai, which is located near the landmark racecourse. All of the rooms have a view of the racetrack, which makes for a wonderful view from your room. The conference participants are representing over 25 countries and over 200 individuals attended this international conference on the business analytics for Technology & Security. The conference was hosted jointly by University of Khalifa in Dubai, Skyline University in Sharjah, University Kebangaan Malaysia and number of strategic partners including Zayed University, UAE, British University in Dubai, University of Sharjah, Petra University in Jordan, King Abdul Aziz University in Saudi Arabia and others. I was invited as a Chief guest and also to offer a keynote lecture on Demystifying scientific research.

All of us recognise the importance of the individual as well as the benefits that can be gained from knowledge sharing and heuristic learning. While we all recognise that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is extremely fluid, academics did not want to miss out on the opportunity to engage and share our research output with colleagues around the world, so they all came together to engage and mingle with one another in order to share their research output or simply to learn from expert scholars on a variety of topics. One of the primary goals of the conference was to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and innovative ideas about current trends in computer science, communications and information technology, business management, innovation,  entrepreneurship and many more.

It was appropriate that this conference was being held in a country that has historically been considered an emerging market and is currently placed 14th in the Global Power City Index 2021 and third in the world for expats. Dubai is sometimes called “A modern miracle”, a city of fantasy and imagination. I am quite thrilled to learn that more than ten universities in Dubai have been ranked among the top 750 universities in the world by QS in 2022, with Khalifa University ranking first in Dubai and 183rd in the world according to the QS. It takes a remarkable vision and drive to turn a relatively quiet backwater into a global transport hub and visitor destination. In the space of less than three decades, Dubai has undergone an extraordinary transformation, a metamorphosis that, whilst not without pain, has impressed not only the rest of the Arab world, but much of the international community. An emirate with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the modern city of Dubai seeks to be audacious and confident.  Tourism, property and financial services drive its economy and make Dubai a veritable magnet for visitors and investors alike. I am convinced that such an international conference would improve the quality of research and will assist universities in improving their performance in the future. I'm particularly thrilled to note that the United Arab Emirates ranked 26th in the Global Entrepreneurship Index 2022.

There has been a tremendous response to such conference, one that underscores the importance of the need to engage, interact and be open to fresh ideas and learning. When scholars attend such conference, it is not only healthy, but vital if lasting solutions are to be found for some of the challenges facing the world today. Such conference can provide a particular and unique platform for educators and researchers to communicate and promote their research findings in a welcoming environment. This meeting serves as a timely reminder of the necessity of being outward-looking, of benchmarking, and of making research available to the public, particularly worldwide. No country can afford to be complacent; if globalisation has taught us anything, it is the importance of learning from others, adapting, and continually striving to better our offering. The conference delegates brought number of interesting, stimulating and yet unexplored areas of discussion including artificial Intelligence, Cloud-Based Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Smart Waste Management and Classification System for Smart Cities, Post-Covid 19 and students’ experiences with technology-based learning, Fake News Detection system disruptive technology and many more.

Lasting development in any country can only come from promotion on merit and a collaborative spirit, one that sees partnership, enterprise and a commitment to meaningful research. Higher Education must be at the forefront of development, with a concerted drive to move up world academic rankings whilst also meeting the needs of a nation in an era of rapid and sometimes bewildering change. Quality Assurance Training, curiosity, passion and a love of subject should all play their part in Higher Education. Such academic conference is a golden opportunity to forge new connections, both locally and internationally. Higher Education can be truly transformative, and it is up to each of us and our respective institutions and organisations to play our part.

The professional conference is an important activity in the life of an academic or graduate student. Attending a conference is widely accepted as a great way to learn about the most recent studies and ideas in your field. Conferences also provide opportunities for face-to-face interactions with leaders in your field, and for those just starting out in academia, they provide valuable advice and mentoring. Furthermore, they are a way to initiate collaborations on papers or projects, as well as to more directly advance your career by finding new positions or building your program by using these meetings to recruit faculty, students, or interns, or even to make money by selling your new technology or software to practitioners. Beyond the conference presentations, conferences are an invaluable resource for academics.

Scientific and technical publications are increasingly expected to be published in both academic and professional circles, and this expectation has grown dramatically in recent years. It is often expected by respective institutions that a member of the academic staff will publish the results of his or her research work in a reputable journal after completing his or her research project. In fact, according to a recent assessment by the Bangladesh Grants Commission, more than 45 universities in Bangladesh were either not producing any research or producing very little research, and other schools did not even have a research budget at all. It might be really perplexing to receive such information at times. The ways in which universities are defining their aspirations to become quality institutions has been something I've been observing for the past 20 years.

Attending such academic conferences allows participants to focus on networking opportunities, hands-on communication skill development, and a reflective environment for identifying knowledge gaps in conservation science. One of the most significant reported effects may have been new contacts that led to partnerships and funding for research and projects. Conference assistance leads to more fruitful long-term professional relationships. During the conference, I heard from participants that it was especially beneficial to be able to collaborate across continents and across disciplines or sectors. Often, much of the networking at conferences takes place in the hallways or at social events.

Despite the fact that Covid-19 had caused a significant shift in the circumstances during the past two years. There were a large number of virtual conferences. In contrast, a virtual conference will not have the same impact as a face-to-face gathering. Having a virtual drink is not an option! Online conferencing cannot be used for this form of communication. Research projects have been born out of casual conversations at regional and international conferences. Getting to know potential coworkers is easier when you do it face-to-face. Students and young researchers alike have discovered the importance of social connection. It is common for remote meetings to focus on accomplishing a certain objective or solving a specific problem. This prevents the formation of vital social ties. Only in person, rather than over the phone or over an internet connection can genuine impressions be established In terms of networking, traditional conventions have a big advantage. Face-to-face networking at conferences, according to prior conference participants I've spoken with, is essential for securing financing, securing job chances, securing research opportunities, and securing new alliances and collaborations. When you meet someone in person rather than merely conversing online, you can boost their memorability and perceived sincerity. Professional contacts and connections can be forged at conferences.

Conferences also provide an opportunity for cross-university exchanges. The formation of multi-university collaborations might be difficult, yet conferences provide as a platform for such collaborations to occur. It is possible to advance specific research initiatives by pooling resources and experiences, but it is also possible to advance science as a whole. It is not only possible to present research at a conference to the general public; it may also serve as an important arena for brainstorming, networking and building critical connections that can lead to new initiatives, articles and funding that are not possible through virtual or online meetings. This is why conferences are so important.


The writer is Executive Chair, Centre for Business & Economic Research, UK